Magic Town

A fascinating companion piece (some would say antidote) to the films Robert Riskin wrote for Frank Capra. Riskin writes and produces here, and Capra-esque elements seem well to the fore: Stewart's 'too much of a dreamer' hero, hoping for a 'miracle'; an idyllic small town called Grandview; a newspaper editor heroine (Wyman) trying to bring about positive change. But in fact there's an almost total reversal of Capraesque values, for director 'Wild Bill' Wellman is no old softie. Thus Stewart's dream (he's an independent opinion pollster) is to find the 'mathematic miracle' of a small town which will exactly represent America as a whole, and thus help him make a million at the expense of his big rivals with their cross-country sampling methods; while Wyman's idea of change might turn the idyllic community into another part of the rat race. There's a feeling of reserve and none of Capra's heart-rending; which of course makes for a less obviously involving experience, though Wellman's way of visually orchestrating his themes without drawing didactic attention to them is unique.

Release details

Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: William Wellman
Screenwriter: Robert Riskin
Cast: James Stewart
Jane Wyman
Kent Smith
Ned Sparks
Wallace Ford
Regis Toomey
Ann Doran
Donald Meek
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